Objectivity will interest any reader interested in how the conceptions and practices of science change historically and culturally. A claim to objective knowledge is an absolute demand for obedience. There, science and its outcomes took on a very human face. But, it is precisely this humanness, and its presumed downsides for science that motivated Daston and Galison to write Objectivity.
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Reviews This is a deeply researched book that will make you think. It is beautiful, and it is important I recommend it to anyone—optimist or pessimist, female or male—with a healthy dash of curiosity and a cranium. American Scientist A truly outstanding book that will hopefully shape our future vision of what is meant by objectivity, from an epistemic as well as from an ethical and aesthetical point of view. Image and Narrative As Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison point out in their capacious and engaging study of the concept of scientific objectivity from the 17th century to the present day, the universal form is key to understanding how modern science moved from the study of curiosities, through the representations of perfect, notional specimens, to a concept of objectivity as responsibility for science.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Endorsements Historically brilliant, philosophically profound, and beautifully written, Objectivity will be the focus of discussion for decades to come. At one and the same time a history of scientific objectivity and a history of the scientific self, rarely have rigor and imagination been combined so seamlessly and to such deep effect.
No one who opens this book can fail to be engaged and provoked by its energy, ideas, and arguments. One emerges from reading it as if from a series of intellectual earthquakes—sound but no longer safe.
It is almost shockingly original, genuinely profound, and amazingly learned without ever being pedantic. It should force everyone interested in science and its history or in objectivity and its history to think more deeply about what they think they already know.
It gives me great satisfaction to learn that thinking and writing of this brilliance and depth are still going on, even in this age of consumerism and mass markets. This splendid book will be for many years the ultimate compendium on the joint history of objectivity and visualization.
In Objectivity, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison chart the emergence of objectivity in the mid-nineteenth-century sciences--and show how the concept differs from its alternatives, truth-to-nature and trained judgment. This is a story of lofty epistemic ideals fused with workaday practices in the making of scientific images. From the eighteenth through the early twenty-first centuries, the images that reveal the deepest commitments of the empirical sciences--from anatomy to crystallography--are those featured in scientific atlases, the compendia that teach practitioners what is worth looking at and how to look at it. Galison and Daston use atlas images to uncover a hidden history of scientific objectivity and its rivals. Whether an atlas maker idealizes an image to capture the essentials in the name of truth-to-nature or refuses to erase even the most incidental detail in the name of objectivity or highlights patterns in the name of trained judgment is a decision enforced by an ethos as well as by an epistemology. As Daston and Galison argue, atlases shape the subjects as well as the objects of science.